Roll up to The Driskill Hotel and try not to feel giddy. I dare you.
Located smack in the heart of downtown, this stately, behemoth of a hotel woos even the most cynical hipsters among us. The Driskill is the luxe southern darling here in the Capitol City, and the Driskill Grill is its culinary heartbeat.
Fall Menu With Finesse
I recently visited the Driskill Grill to indulge in the wizardry Chef Troy Knapp and his team have concocted, showcasing their revitalized fall menu.
Composing an innovative collection of cuisine that caters to a diverse downtown Austin clientele is no small feat, but Seattle native Troy Knapp has proven that he’s up to the task. Tucked away in his office in the bowels of the hotel, surrounded by guitars and nestled in cookbooks, Knapp negotiates with local farmers, ranchers and fishermen, then dreams up food and wine menus that complement seasonal offerings, while showcasing his expert sommeliers. He and his team labor to create modern-meets-classic plates and tasting menus that are as enjoyable on a swanky date night as they are during a formal celebration.
I tried not to crowd in too close to Knapp’s lovely, handcrafted Flamenco guitars that hang on the walls of his office, as I eyed the intoxicating spread of bar snacks. I didn’t want to seem too eager, but it was hard to resist my urge to dig in.
Driskill Grill bar snacks are the sophisticated big sister to typical pub fare. Salty sweet bacon-wrapped dates and cloyingly caramelized seasoned nuts pair just as easily with champagne as your favorite local IPA. The house-cured beef jerky has such an addictive smoky tang, you’ll be tempted to tuck some in your purse for later.
Following snacks and mingling, our dinner party migrated to the dining room to experience Knapp’s latest fall offerings. Just one pass over the menu, and it was clear the Driskill Grill specializes in timeless, luxe favorites while innovating tired standards, moving seasonally through Central Texas growing seasons.
As I experienced the shift away from summer vegetables to earthy, fall flavors, it was impossible not to swoon over classic soup and salad courses of roasted acorn squash bisque, garnished with pumpkin seeds and sage oil, as well as pear and pecan salad, flecked with shaved fennel and green apple.
Driskill Grill’s Secret Is Out
Driskill Grill has a little secret it’s been keeping from the city of Austin at large, and it’s time you got in on it. The chefs and butchers age their beef within in-house dry-aging rooms. What does this mean for your average meat-loving devotee? The dry-aging process develops that hard-to-obtain sweetness, nuttiness and bite you simply cannot get out of an anonymous slab of meat. Just one bite into the Driskill’s dry-aged filet mignon, and the woody musk and meaty mushroom flavors are unmistakable.
You’ll notice that Driskill Grill diners tend to go quiet during the main course, and now I understand why. My table sat in hushed, holy reverence as we partook in unparalleled decadence. Food expertly paired with a local, full-bodied red wine, it was impossible not to feel heady and give thanks.
Knapp is reinforced by accomplished pastry chef, Tony Sansalone, to bring an epic tasting menu to its encore. You know you cannot, should not look at the dessert menu, but one glance and all bets are off. If the apple pie-semi fredo doesn’t cause a swift change of heart, the silken dark chocolate Valrhona chocolate terrine is just cause for even the most disciplined to cave to temptation.
The Driskill Grill continues to be Austin’s luxurious culinary epicenter with their five-course fall tasting menu.
604 Brazos Street – Website
@kristinmleigh wants to know:
What’s the last memorable Austin meal you enjoyed?
Disclosure: I received a media invitation to try The Driskill Grill’s menu for the purposes of this article. All opinions are my own.